Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Bumping accidentally into a “pro-civil marriage” entry

Posted by worriedlebanese on 25/06/2007

I stumbled upon an odd article on Future Movement’s internet site that raises the question of civil marriage in Lebanon.
It is not really a proper post; it’s a non referenced copy of article written by Zvi Bar’el that was probably originally published in Haaretz.
What I found most interesting is the number of inaccuracies and mistakes that the article contains, and not one mention of them by the person who copy/pasted the article. One can presume that he didn’t notice them, which is most likely because they follow common assumptions shared by Lebanese and non-Lebanese on the idiosyncrasies of Lebanese law.
Here are a couple of the false assumptions found in the article:
“The most salient constitutional prohibition is a ban on marriage between Christians and Muslims”. Absolutely false. There is no ban on interfaith marriage in Lebanon. Actually, Lebanese law does not put any conditions on marriage. This matter is left to the different communities. So in the same was as the religious communities can except polygamy or enforce monogamy, chose different procedures for ending a marriage, put conditions on who can marry and who cannot… they can refuse, accept or limit interfaith marriages. Only the Druze and the Jewish personal laws refuse mixed marriages in Lebanon. Muslim and Greek-Orthodox personal status laws limit them, and Catholic personal laws establish a special procedure for them.
“It was only in 1983 that these personal status laws were translated into Arabic”. Wrong again. Most of the Lebanese personal laws either predate the Mandate period (such as the Sunni personal law) or follow it (such as the Christian, the Druze, the Shiite and more recently the Alawite personal status laws)… all are in Arabic, and they were translated into French in… 1970!
“The fact that children are legally considered their father’s property”. Property?! In all of the Personal status laws I have studied, the general concept is that of Custody!
The text is full of such inaccuracies and shows a great misunderstanding of Lebanon. This is hardly surprising coming from an Israeli journalist, but what I find disturbing is to know that many Lebanese share this misunderstanding.


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